South Bend considering 8-period days for intermediate schools

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The South Bend School Board is considering increasing the number of class periods at middle schools from seven to eight.

They approved a similar proposal for high schools last February.

Administrators say the change would give students more time for physical education, health and fine arts courses. Under the current schedule, intermediate students only have 22 days of P.E. per year.

"If I had my way, it would be physical ed K through 12," said school board member Dawn Jones. "Because, students need an outlet. And, they need that time to release energy, to exercise and to build muscles."

Educators say studies indicate physical activity can boost academic achievement. Exposure to the fine arts can have the same effect, but many kids are limited to only one of those courses with the 7-period day.

"We have seen our participation in band and orchestra drop dramatically," said Superintendent Dr. Carole Schmidt. "Ultimately, down the line, that's going to impact our high school offerings."

If approved, the schedule change would also give teachers an extra planning period. That would allow them to spend time meeting and collaborating with other teachers.

"Right now, teachers have a plan time, so that's part of the contract," Schmidt said. "They're entitled to a planning time. To take that planning time to collaborate with other teachers takes away their opportunity to do their own. So, they'll have time to do their own planning and they'll also have a plan time that they can work in teams."

The school board will vote on the schedule change in June.

Schmidt says the adjustment wouldn't lengthen the school day or cost any money. The corporation was planning on eliminating 12.5 jobs at intermediate centers for the 2014-2015 school year. If the proposal passes, they would retain 9 of those positions.

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